The day that many dread is here: It's Tax Day. Of the 143 million federal tax returns filed last year, more than 80 percent qualified for a refund. Steve Inskeep talks to David Wessel, economics editor of The Wall Street Journal, about the economics of tax refunds.
They say the only things that are certain in life are death and taxes. But half that statement appears to be under challenge by one late rap star and some special effects, which brings us to today's last word in business - virtual comeback.
President Obama's so-called Buffett rule has slammed into a wall of GOP opposition. On the eve of tax day, Senate Republicans voted yesterday to block a measure that would have made mega-investor Warren Buffett and billionaires and millionaires like him pay at least a 30 percent tax rate. Although Buffett endorses such a rule, Senate Republicans call it an election year gimmick. Their Democratic counterparts insist it's all about fairness. NPR's David Welna has our story.
The actor Alec Baldwin is in Washington, speaking in favor of the National Endowment for the Arts. The government-funded arts organization long ago supported the Sundance Film Festival and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. In more recent years, the NEA has supported writers, arts education for kids, and everything from jazz musicians to urban design. It has also faced political controversy; most notably in the 1990s, when its funding was slashed.
We're going to hear now from a religious leader revered by Tibetan Buddhists and admired by countless others - the 14th Dalai Lama. A year ago he stepped down as the political leader of Tibet's government in exile to devote himself to spreading a spiritual message of compassion and peace. Still, he's been drawn into talking about violence since a wave of deadly protests swept through the Tibetan areas of China.
Likely GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney is reaching out to a segment of the Republican base that has given him trouble in this year's primary season: the Tea Party. Last night in Philadelphia, he spoke to activists from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. And as NPR national political correspondent Don Gonyea reports, what might have been a tough crowd turned out to be just the opposite.
Zach Houston runs his Poem Store (on any given sidewalk) with these items: a manual typewriter, a wooden folding chair, scraps of paper, and a white poster board that reads: "POEMS — Your Topic, Your Price."
Houston usually gets from $2 to $20 for a poem, he says. He's received a $100 bill more than once. The Oakland, Calif., resident has been composing spontaneous street poems in the San Francisco Bay Area since 2005. Five years ago, it became his main source of income.
The 2012 presidential election is approaching, and President Obama's fate may hinge on how well the economy fares over the coming months.
On the campaign trail, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been highlighting the economy's weaknesses. The former Massachusetts governor has made a similar claim about the president, and the recession, at almost every campaign stop.
"I don't blame the president for the downturn," Romney told a crowd in New Hampshire earlier this year. "He didn't cause it. But he made it worse and made it last longer."